×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CANNES: Ivanhoe Pictures Commits to Asian Mega-Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

Backed by Singapore-based U.S. financier Robert Friedland and headed by former GreeneStreet president, John Penotti, (pictured) new production and investment company Ivanhoe Pictures has committed upward of $130 million to making Asian movies.

The company name comes from Friedland’s publicly listed Ivanhoe Energy Canadian mining empire and Ivanhoe Capital, his Singapore-based fund business. Friedland’s net worth is estimated at $1.8 billion.

Ivanhoe Pictures came about after I toured China, Hong Kong and Singapore in October 2011. Robert (Friedland) got the pitch straight away and understood how we would conduct business in Asia,” Penotti told Variety. “We deliberately put strategy before projects.

“The idea is to source local-language film, and to produce and develop them using expertise garnered from the U.S., and secondly to make English-language films with Asian elements,” he added.

In November the company unveiled a four-year deal with Fox Intl. Prods., the international production arm of 21st Century Fox, to co-finance a number of FIP films throughout Asia, some already in pre-production, as part of the $130m allocated by Ivanhoe for FIP films. It is committed to nine projects in the first year, and upwards of 10 in the second year.

Popular on Variety

FIP makes local-language movies worldwide and in Asia and has made or is now preparing pictures in India (with Fox Star Studios), South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan. FIP movies are released in local markets and may also be picked up by other Fox units in other territories.

Ivanhoe’s own local-language pictures are sourced through the company’s Beijing office, staffed by former China Central Television exec Ray Chen and Janet Wu. The first Mandarin-language film may be announced later this week.

They are expected to use Ivanhoe-generated financial structures. “There is so much money available in China that our problem will be holding on to the financial influence over the pictures,” said Penotti. “We need to prove that we won’t simply come and go. That there will be a senior executive present (in China) all the time and that we understand and bring something to the development process.”

Penotti recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles in order to be closer to Asia and to other key partners.

Ivanhoe’s first English-language production is its financing and co-production role — alongside Nina Jacobson (“The Hunger Games”) and Brad Simpson’s Color Force — on an adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestseller “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Ivanhoe’s first acquisition is its recently unveiled involvement on John Carney-directed “Begin Again.” Ivanhoe is co-acquiring Chinese rights with leading Chinese film and TV combine Beijing Galloping Horse.

“Three years from now we are looking to see the FIP slate represent half of our business. That is because we will be producing more and because we will be looking for other completed third-party films to release in China. ‘Begin Again’ was not a random move,” said Penotti. “We will be co-financing and releasing in China … and are in discussions with companies.”

More Film

  • Better-Days

    Macao: Hot Bets, Short Odds And Sure Things in the 2019 IFFAM Program

    Macao may be renowned for gambling, but the 4th International Film Festival & Awards of Macao (IFFAM) features more than a few sure bets. Oscar-watchers should look out for Taika Waititi’s opening film “Jojo Rabbit”; Rupert Goold’s biopic of Judy Garland, “Judy,” which looks likely to land Renée Zellweger a best actress nomination; and Terrence [...]

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    'Clouds' Director Teng Congcong on Being a Conservative Chinese Feminist

    As hot money flees the China film market and financing dries up, the romantic film genre will actually become more attractive for investors, assesses Teng Congcong, director of the recent Chinese romantic drama “Send Me To the Clouds.” “Things used to be moving in the direction of big budget blockbusters, but the financing that’s leftover [...]

  • I'm Livin' It

    Films From Macau and China Take the IFFAM Spotlight

    The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), which opened last night (December 5) at the Macao Cultural Center, is positioned as one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former Portuguese colony to the People’s Republic of China. Five Macanese features are among the [...]

  • Grand Isle

    Film Review: 'Grand Isle'

    A sub-Tennessee Williams potboiler triangle between restless sexpot, impotent husband, and hunky handyman ever-so-slowly congeals into a lumpy gumbo of thriller elements in “Grand Isle.” This third directorial big-screen feature for veteran Steadicam operator Stephen S. Campanelli has plenty of potential guilty-pleasure signifiers — not least being top-billed Nicolas Cage’s sixth vehicle this year — [...]

  • Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the

    Moroccan Director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the Light On,' and New Feature

    Moroccan director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari – whose trilogy of films, “Casanegra,” “Zero” and “Burnout,” were major local hits – is completing a documentary for the Marrakech Film Festival Foundation, entitled “Turn the Light On,” about the Foundation’s medical-social campaign, that provides free cataract surgery treatment. The campaign is organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content